This week has been spent consuming the digital outputs from Digipharm and the PM Society Digital Media Awards.
Most of the team have been at Digipharm, coming back with lessons, learnings and frustrations. I have been engrossed in reflective discussion and ploughing through slide shares.
Digipharm presented rather an interesting paradox. Almost all the speakers were advocates and users of social media – be that Twitter, blogs, Facebook or Slideshare. By it’s very nature, getting stuck into social media in the spheres and groups of interest to each of us gives us great transparency to the views of others with the same interests. As such, those people close to the social media outputs of the speakers over the last year will have already been familiar with much of what they had to say. It does beg the question – if you believe in the strength of social media, is it really appropriate to hold an offline conference to persuade of it’s power?
Fascinating too, that most of the presentations are compiled and repurposed blogs in a presentation format. Is it too much to hope for these digital specialists to understand that all channels require us to optimise our delivery and message to suit them? Isn’t there an irony in taking lessons from another powerpoint slide purveyor on the importance of utilising digital effectively? That just delivering content is not enough – you need to screw everything you can out of the environmental possibilities of the channel. Use the conference opportunity, enable the debate, force group work or even, heavens above, facilitate live innovation. Where’s the problem solving? Where’s the experience? Where’s the ‘practice what you preach’?
Beyond the appropriateness of the style, is is reasonable to assume that whilst we just talk to ourselves we should expect to achieve anything more than incremental improvement? For two days, digital pharma spoke to digital pharma, partly about how behind digital pharma (still) is. As an industry, how can we expect to learn from and catch up with other industries if we only talk amongst ourselves? Conferences like this should be pulling in seriously capable talent from outside our arena, allowing us to see bleeding edge digital work from the whole space, not just an inward look at our keen but clearly toddling sector.
But regardless of who they are, whilst people are up on stage. A small wish for next year would be to rise above the speaker-bashing-by-tweet mid presentation. It’s Prickville. Why not go the whole hog and draw a cock and balls on the blackboard? These are too important times to allow the Twitter tits to lowest-common-denominator-heckle. If you disagree, or are bored, then grow some nuts and get involved. Or sit still and behave – the usual rules of polite convention apply. Don’t hide behind the little blue bird – its anonymity is not an excuse for a lack of respect.
I have seen digital communities develop in the hospitality sector for years now, as part of a team running what the guardian considered to be one the UKs top 5 pop up restaurants. It’s really interesting to watch this grass roots digitally enabled community grow and develop, and contrast it to our world. In the pop up restaurant world the early days saw a few leaders act and encourage, keen to co-create, eager to share, but most of all drag everyone in, regardless. Those that did, shared. Self imposed authority was questioned, ego was mocked, and the community self-policed, valuing development of the movement over sales, fame and self promotion. It felt almost liberal. In the healthcare world that community is a punch line, a sound bite. Is the community thats discussed in digital health really a collection of the self interested? I think we should take a good hard look and fear becoming at most a collusion for profit, at least egomania united in sycophancy.
Alongside our visit to the conference, we have been involved in the judging, entries and ceremony of the PM Digital Awards, picking up 5 across the group last night.
The awards have provided us with view of what is seen as worthwhile, what’s valued. ROI is front of mind and look and feel is pretty central. Would it be healthy to seek an evolution to the night – seems fitting for digital surely? Both the ‘established’ format and traditional black tie event are crying out for change. It left me reaching for some interactivity, some alternative approach that differentiated the space we are in.
Most importantly, surely we should demand that these digital events challenge our expectation. I hope we strive to avoid corporate safety, for the benefit of the digital community and look to other areas to really engender change and progression.